The best HIIT cardio workout that you can start with is running because, while it is extremely simple, it works the muscles of your entire body (legs, core and arms), elevates your heart rate, and usually burns the most calories per minute. A lean out workout is incredibly effective when you incorporate HIIT running.
How do I start running as my HIIT cardio workout?
Running can often seem intimidating but it’s an important HIIT cardio workout for lean fitness. If you’re just starting out, you probably can’t go for very long. But don’t let that discourage you. You simply have to build up your level of fitness and the easiest way to do that is by doing a workout that intersperses running and walking. Use a lean body app to help you with workouts and motivation along the way, just to get you jump started at the very least.
Running is the perfect HIIT cardio workout for beginners. If you’re a complete beginner then run for as long as you possibly can (let’s say 5 minutes to start) and then walk the same amount of time (5 minutes.) Repeat three times (or more if you’re still not tired). Essentially, you are interspersing your high intensity periods (running) with low intensity ones (walking). As you become more advanced, you should aim to increase the length of time you spend running and to decrease the length of time you spend walking. So work up to running for 10 minutes and then walk for 5 minutes. Repeat this “set” 2-3 times. Continue this pattern until you are able to run continuously for 30 minutes.
What should you know before you implement running as an HIIT cardio workout?
When you’re just starting with running as your HIIT cardio workout, it’s vital to build good habits. Because running is so effective and efficient, I recommend easing into running because it is a workout you will be able to do virtually anywhere, anytime since all you need is a pair of sneakers. It will keep your heart, muscles, and bones healthy for life… not to mention help keep you lean!
Can I still do an HIIT cardio workout if I can’t run?
You can still do an HIIT cardio workout if you can’t run, a body weight circuit or HIIT strength training is effective as well.
Try starting with other workouts only if you have an injury or medical condition that prevents you from running. Cycling on the upright bike is a good alternative. Swimming is also a great alternative workout if your joints cannot handle high intensity exercises (such as on the treadmill or pavement) because it will also work your entire body without putting pressure on those joints.
How do I start running if I’m completely new to exercise and HIIT?
If you’re new to exercise and HIIT, you can start running by easing into your workouts — maybe start with a power walk or jog to begin with.
Some every day movements and routines that can count as exercise can be as simple as walking or going up the stairs as well. Try walking quicker than normal to get your heart rate up and taking the stairs if you work or live on the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th floor of a building. Other things that can count as exercise include dancing with your friends, carrying heavy groceries up the stairs, and running to catch the train. The easiest way to incorporate being active is to tack on your exercise to a habit that you do every single day already. For example, if you get a coffee from the drive through every morning, see if you can walk or jog to your closest coffee shop instead of driving. Or, if after you drop the kids off to school, you drive by a gym or fitness studio on your way home — start stopping in for 30 minutes. If there are other things you do in the scope of running errands like stopping by the post office or drug store… see if you can walk or jog there instead of driving. It’s all about replacing sedentary activities with active ones whenever you can. Another easy way to incorporate exercise is to do activities that you love. If you enjoy dance, then go out dancing or take a dance class. If you love playing basketball, then join a recreational league and play every week.
How do I start doing an HIIT workout if I’ve never exercised before?
If you’ve never exercised before and you want to start doing an HIIT workout or are looking for lean body motivation in general, you have to start small. Take baby steps.
Any amount of exercise is beneficial! If you’ve never exercised before, starting with just a 10 minute walk every morning will help you tremendously. Once you get comfortable doing that, then you can increase the time spent exercising as well as the intensity of your workouts. The general guideline is about 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise every week. If you’re not ready to start right at that level then simply build up to it.
Do I have to work out out for a long time to see the benefits of HIIT or cardio workouts?
You don’t have to work out for a long time to see the benefits of HIIT or cardio workouts, so long as you focus on the intensity when you are working out.
It’s perfectly fine to spread out your physical activity throughout the day. If you can do an intense workout first thing in the morning, then great! But if that’s not possible, then going for several vigorous 10-15 minute walks throughout your day is good too. Movement is so important and so good for you so do it whenever you can.
Jon Pearlman is a former standout tennis player at Harvard, ATP-ranked touring pro, and author of The Lean Body Manual. He founded Mission Lean to share his unique formula for lean body fitness and nutrition, an approach that took over a decade to develop and perfect. He is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist.